Progression of Restored Voice

Hello and tashi delek, friends!

RVP has now been in Dharamsala for a month.  In that time, I’ve acquired an interpreter, an intern, a better understanding of Tibetan culture and Tibetan issues, meetings with local NGOs and nunneries, many new friends, and about a third of the ani-la’s (Tibetan nuns) interviews necessary for the publication.  And more are to come!  Next week – Dolma Ling and Tibetan Nuns Project down in Sidhpur, a valley in Dharamsala with a spectacular view of the mountains.  I look forward to writing more about Dolma Ling – it is a place that is as powerful as it is beautiful.

View within Dolma Ling (photo property of Restored Voice Project)

View within Dolma Ling (photo property of Restored Voice Project)

The book is now much fuller and tangible in my mind.  My instincts on the structure, goals, and spirit of the project were solid – descriptions of the project have been met with support and enthusiasm from the Tibetan community, which is most important to me.  The ani I’ve interviewed have been so thankful for the chance to speak, and flush with emotion and smiling humbly at the thought of our support.  I always take the time to explain how we came together to make this happen – how many individuals, not an organization or institution, wanted to hear their stories, to learn from them.  They are generally at a loss for words for a moment, in response to this.  The constant oppression they and their people have faced is tempered by our interest and concern.  I thank you again for your support.  And when the book is published, you’ll see the words of thanks from the women themselves.

Dharamsala itself is a beautiful and vibrant city, full of researchers and activists. I meet someone new every day who gives me fresh inspiration.


Filed under Cultural Anthropology, Public, Community, Tibet, Tibetan Refugees, Women's Empowerment

7 responses to “Progression of Restored Voice

  1. Kalpana Santosh Gupte

    Wow, Liv. It’s very interesting to read your updates. Believe me, several well wishers keep inquiring about you and your project. With so much good will flowing, the end result is bound to be good. Thanks for giving us a chance to see through your eyes and experiences.
    Kalpana Santosh Gupte

  2. Are you working exclusively with the ani in Dharamsala? I assume that they are Gelukpa, yes?

    • oliviaengel

      Raven, yes, my field work is here in Dharamsala. I deal exclusively with women who have escaped from Tibet and are, or have been, ani. I believe that there are different traditions around the area – I have met female mystics too. The project itself is not limited to any particular sect of Tibetan Buddhism, though, and I am hoping to speak with women from different traditions. Incidentally, is there a book you’d recommend for research on Tibetan ani in terms of their practice? I have been very much focused on women’s empowerment and Tibetan history, and lately I’ve realized that there are some gaps in my knowledge when it comes to the ways that the ani lead their spiritual lives, from ordination and on. I’ve read bits and pieces, but I’d love an authoritative source devoted to them. Have you come across any you thought were worth reading?

      • I haven’t come across any modern day depictions of ani life except, as you say, in bits in pieces. Recently, there was publshed a translation of a Bon buddhist text which chronicles the lives of a lineage of female practitioners from the distant past.

        It might be interesting for you to know that Menri Monastery in Dolanji has recently started a dialectic program for the nuns. If that kind of thing interest you, it might be worth finding out about so that you can follow the development and experience of the first nuns through the program.

        Best of luck with everything!

      • oliviaengel

        Thanks, Raven! There does seem to be a bit of a chasm between how much information is available about the monks vs. the nuns, eh? Hopefully I can fill in some of those blanks with this book. And thanks for the link, I’ll definitely check that out – Bon is fascinating. I’m definitely interested in dialectics, and it’s funny that you mention it, because I was just touring the dialectics stage at Dolma Ling today. It’s gorgeous! If you ever get a chance to see Dolma Ling, don’t pass it up. Cheers – Olivia

      • You’re welcome Olivia. Also, if you haven’t already, look into Khandro Rinpoche and the work that she is doing with her nuns. Khandro Rinpoche speaks very good English and might at least prove to be an excellent resource.


      • oliviaengel

        Fantastic, maybe I could pay her a visit when I’m back in my homeland!


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